Teach English in Sunyuan Zhen - Suqian Shi

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Like many other countries where English is not their first language, teaching young learners, especially children from ages 4 to 13 years are both challenging and rewarding. Many local teachers and parents in China have a common attitude towards learning English as a second language. They know that mastering English would open doors for their children and give them a competitive edge both in the present and the future. However, whenever their children failed at completing assignments from teachers or failed to meet parents’ expectations, they would blame external factors. Two of the most common external factors are (1) English not being their first language and therefore their children lose interest in learning and refused to complete their assignments; and (2) the teacher doesn’t know how to teach their kids, resulting in parents concluding that the teacher’s methods are ineffective. Another challenge faced by students in China is learning the pronunciation of words and mastering intonation when speaking and reading. One of the main contributing factors to this difficulty is because the Chinese language is also learned in a similar manner, called ‘pinyin’. It also uses the alphabets together with four symbols to guide readers on intonation. This confuses students especially young learners. Young learners are exposed to reading materials in their first language at an early age in China. When they are sent to language training centers to learn English as their second language, confusion and stress begin to develop. One of the examples is that in the English language when asking a question, the tone of the final word in the question is elevated. This is not the case with the Chinese language. Students often commented that this practice in the English language is weird and funny. It takes time for them to get used to it. When they try very hard to do it on purpose, it sounds odd too. Nowadays, parents and teachers are beginning to pay more attention to the importance of reading and exposing young learners to as many varieties of reading materials as possible. There is an increased demand for books published in the English language in the Chinese market. However, the issue of piracy of books is also on the rise. Books published in the English language don’t come cheap in China, I have no idea why, but normally good reads are sold at a very high price in online bookstores and even pricier in the very few bookstores that sell books published in the English language. Every time I return to my home country, I would always spend lots of time getting books as reference materials and extra teaching aids before coming back to China. This has helped me saved a lot in getting good materials for class. Furthermore, in terms of teaching resources available online, I also face the challenge of accessing the websites because most of them are blocked by the Chinese rules and regulations of internet access. Thanks to various VPN applications, I can bring more interesting materials and authentic teaching aids into my classroom. I do hope that this would change in the future. One of the important skills that parents would like their children to develop apart from the 4 main skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing; is the ability to think in English. This has a lot to do with mastering grammar rules in the English language. Because the grammar rules for the Chinese language are very much different from the ones for the English language. For example, a sentence in English would sound very odd if translated directly word for word into the Chinese language. This has caused the phenomena of students from China being able to score very well on paper, in written tests but find it extremely difficult to do well in listening and speaking tests. Being able to think in English would help in shortening the response time required when communicating with others in English. This is a lengthy process for students learning English as a second language and I believe through reading, listening and practicing, students would be able to improve and develop better language abilities in time.